next weekend marks the start of the move to the new garden space across from the library and we only have a couple of weeks to vacate the old site...so while i was on campus today i spent about an hour dismantling the beds in the old garden made from landscaping timbers...they have been in the garden for a few years and the bottom timbers are showing signs of marked decay...the others are fine and can be re-purposed for different used at the new site...the deeper beds ( like the one the strawberries are in ) seem like they will be fairly easy to remove but i thought it might be better to wait until a number of people were available to remove them so we could limit damage...they are sturdy and can certainly be reused...once some beds are constructed in the new site we can begin to try to move the garlic and strawberries to new homes...the strawberries are still dormant ( and still mulched ) which may work in our favor...outcomes remain to be seen but the move has begun...there is some time pressure but we have about a month-and-a-half cushion before serious planting for the new season has to start...that's a challenge i am sure we can meet.
after i dismantled the beds i stacked the lumber around the strawberry bed and along the back side of the garden by the parking lot so we can load it out fairly readily..as i looked around afterwards i noticed that removing the timber had exposed the root systems of the perennial teosinte ( second photo ) and the annual strain as well ( third photo )
i went out to campus this morning to open the asparagus beds at the pgp...the weather is supposed to moderate later this coming week and it's time...after i removed the fabric and straw i pushed the layer of compost underneath aside to allow the plants to sprout...asparagus isn't the strongest plant in the world and too much soil over the crowns makes it difficult for the stems to break th esurface...while i was there i took out a stand of intermediate wheat grass that has been there since the beginning...this would be it its fifth season and it is beginning to encroach on far too much of the garden...there are still intermediate wheat grass plants from the land institute there so the grasses will be well represented ( i planted annual tesointe last thursday and , with luck, the zea diploperennis will put in another appearance this year )...that tangle of intermediate wheat grass roots in the third photo gives an idea of why perennial roots hold the soil so well and why breaking sod on the great plains for framing had to wait for steel plows...this was only the first round of my argument with the wheat grass...it will be persistent and i will be pulling grass out of that bed all season...there hasn't been a plant/replant perennial in the garden since the jerusalem artichokes in 2012 and no potatoes since 2010 so i'm thinking potato patch this season...the season has started...more as the asparagus come up and the potatoes go in.
the community garden is a great idea...it fosters face-to-face community building around a cultural universal...food...it provides a tool for learning about what food was before processed industrial food...it's an oasis in a food desert...a place to re-connect with natural cycles in a non-virtual environment...it is environment and there is life out there..the garlic is up including the early red italian...the winter rye is green and the winter wheat is coming out of dormancy..all signs that the long winter is abating and change is in the air...nothing is static in life and that includes the garden...but the changes will be even more dramatic as this season progresses...the iu northwest community garden is about to move to more spacious quarters and i am inclined to think the personality change that engenders will be exciting, impressive, and more inclusive...a diverse and organic community built around a diverse population of organically grown food plants...
"having then arrived at the field , and started a fire for the feast, all of our family who had come out to work sat down and began to husk. word had been sent beforehand that we were going to give a husking feast, and the invited helpers soon appeared. there was no particular time set for their coming, but we expected them in one of the morning hours...the husking season was looked upon as a time of jollity; and youths and maidens dressed and decked themselves for the occasion." from "native american gardening:buffalobird-woman's guide to traditional practices________________________________________________
the new site fronts on 35th avenue south of the library and promises to be much more visible and accessible to the campus and neighborhood communities, ideally melding them into that organic whole i was on about in the previous post through an exploration of food...what food was before being processed and packaged industrially could serve as a start point for some though on what alternative paths food production could have taken..organic and based on locally available food plants? a polyculture of native and migrant plants that provided more calories per unit of work? a broader mix of natives and imports fortified with wild foods gathered as an addition ( purslane and lamb's quarters are nutritious, edible plants normally viewed as "weeds"...what more elegant form of "weed" control than to eat them?)...and multitudes of other ideas from other gardeners...a free expression of what could be as opposed to what is...a personal expression of a broader concept in the microcosm of a garden bed...the possibilities are endless...all it will take is thought and work and the garden is open to anyone who would like to participate...we are up for the adventure...who wants in? in what i will take as an auspicious omen i was able to pick up the organic german butterball seed potatoes on my way home this evening...some of this two pounds of andean migrants will be part of a polyculture soon...stay tuned...this will be cool.
i have plants growing in natural light in the living room window for a few reasons...not least of which is the fact that there is no room available under the grow lights and i patently refuse to set up a fifth fixture this late...natural light will also make it easier to harden these plants off before they go out into one garden or another...the top photo is one of three northern tepehuam teosinte plants derived from seeds i got from the plants i finished in the basement...the second photo is of texas wild cherry tomato plants...if i succeed in getting these going there will never be a need to reseed...they will do the work in the future...the third photo is of one of three purslane plants that have sprouted...madness given their fecundity in the wild...sort of like pampering jerusalem artichokes...but i had to try...and the bottom photo is of one of seven wild potato seedling germinated as a backup in case the basement plants don't set tubers...there are plants all over the house waiting for the weather to break...more as it comes up.
a day jaunt to terre haute entailed a ride down a long stretch of the forgotten and lightly traveled highway 41 through rolling vistas of agricultural land on the far eastern side of indana...miles between towns with little scenery ( although there was enough to keep me occupied...it plays to my interests )...there was some green among the various shades of brown out there...winter rye or winter wheat...both those are greening up in the community garden and my back yard despite the apparent masquerade of spring as winter...but the road provided evidence of another sort of green that is in the offing...on the way back north out of terre haute what wandered by us on the road but a tank truck carrying anhydrous ammonia...king of industrial fertilizers in the corn world...millions of tons of this will be used on cropland in the coming months as corn production gears up...if you don't believe farmers have become chemical workers have a look at the msds for anhydrous ammonia at this address
click on the msds for anhydrous ammonia from c f industries...it is enlightening...a bit further north in kentland i saw a lot at a farm supply store filled with individual tanks of fertilizer ready for distribution to farms in the area...industrial agriculture disrupts nutrient cycles, mining them form the soil and requiring chemical replacement in what wes jackson calls, "chemo-therapy for the soil"...we need to retake control of our food...we need to disrupt deleterious practices...we need to be more organic...see you in the garden.
are these ramps(wild leeks )? they bear a strong resemblance to photos on the interweb...but the labeling of said photos can be a distortion sometimes...it is a bit too early yet for my plant identification skills to be certain...another week or so will do it...but this is definitely movement in the bed i planted ramps in in 2012...if these prove to be something else ( and they well may ) it will be time to reseed the bed...two years is the outside limit i am told for seeds to have the cycles of heat and cold they need to germinate...if this isn't it they aren't going to happen and it's back to square one...more as these develop.
this past winter may have seemed endless to some...but it wasn't that long ago that we put the mulch down on the main garlic bed and twenty-five minutes of work ( after work ) today showed that sixteen garlic plants have erupted to announce the early season has started in the iu northwest community garden...with the other bed ( see second post ) and the two in the bed that wasn't mulched, we have twenty-three garlic plants ready to get on with the season...it is the as official an opening day as i am empowered to make it...next stop, planting day...and that should be a corker.
the second unmuclched bed is planted mostly in jerusalem artichokes and was mulched specifically because of the garlic planted there...four plants have popped up here, however the west end of the bed ( towards the parking lot )is still frozen and there should be a few more plants up as that thaws...so..beds are open and so is the season...it promises to be an adventure and , as always, you just never know where things will end up when you start...stay tuned.
whatever the outcome to day marks the officially observed opening of the i u northwest community garden's 2014 season...there is garlic up and running in one of the beds there...curiously not in one of the main beds that were planted last autumn...these two plants are in an outlying bed and were planted there because we flat ran out of room in the designated beds because someone over ordered garlic ( who, i wonder, did that? even gave a bunch away...still had too much )...they seem to have survived the winter well and aren't waiting around for someone to say the weather is "spring-like"...they are moving to their own clock...the main garlic beds are suffering from an interesting handicap...the ground there is still frozen...which explains the dearth of sprouts there...when fabric was purchased for the mulch cover white was chosen because we did not want to send the strawberries the wrong signal that darker fabric may have...we wanted to reflect heat, not absorb it so the berries would revive in warmer temperatures...there was an ample supply of white fabric so it was used for all the mulch covers and has so successfully reflected sunlight that even fifty degree ( fahrenheit ) days failed to thaw the ground and stimulate sprouts...so...some evening this coming week we will be removing the covers and straw from the beds to facilitate the onset of more garlic...the season is on...don't forget to get a program...the changes could be bewildering if you don't.
the pgp may seem all brown and dormant from a distance...but it isn't...there is considerably more green in the eastern gamagrass ( second photo ) than there was the last time out and that trend will continue right through to terminal spears and seed heads...the intermediate wheat grass is greening as well after reaching a very short state of complete dormancy...it won't waste time waiting for warmer weather either...the time is now...while i was there i picked up more than four hundred chinese yam bulbs, saving me the trouble of culling them later ( not that there won't be a cull...i cannot have found them all...may will see the battle against the invasive critters truly joined )...next saturday will see the ritual planting of annual teosinte seeds and the equally ritual unmulching of the asparagus...another crop that isn't going to wait around for "spring"...the season has started.
some winter keeping potatoes have sensed the approach of spring ( top photo ) and so there will be even more spuds planted next month...these came out of my back yard last august and remained fairly stable until the last month or so..what's another thirty potato plants among various gardens? there will be more than enough to go around this coming summer...the early blue in the second photo are totally out of hand but are at the point where they should be setting tubers that will be done in time for spring planting with more rotating in in may for an extended harvest...the wild potatoes are robust ( third photo ) and doing better than i expected given their start...still hoping for wild tubers to plant...the bottom photo is of the third generation yema de huevos in the basement...they are on track for a june planting and a late september/early october harvest...there will be ( i hope )an ample supply of fresh potatoes all season...stay tuned for a summerr of spud.
an industrial worker and university student (everyone needs a hobby...my hobbies have evolved and, to keep things straight, i have left my formal student career behind for reasons that are too detailed to delve into here...continuing to be a student of life however and not adverse to learning...stasis is death ) sliding down the back side of middle age...a social loner with collectivist leanings...explain that.